The name of the church itself appears to have largely gone out of use at the time of compiling the OS Name Books and they only list is as a ‘Chapel (In Ruins)’ (OS Name Books OS1/18/10/111). However, the name Loch Cille Bhanain reveals that a *Cille Bhanain existed at some point and was then incorporated into the name of the loch. Map forms as late as 1832 list give Kilivanan. The 1914 RCAHMS commissioner stated that there was a ‘ruined building marked “Chapel in ruins” on O.S. map. The name of the loch suggests that there had been a church near it in olden times, but judging from the orientation it is doubtful if this ruin was ever a church.’
Blaeu’s spelling and subsequent forms would suggest that the name is dedicated to St Banan, despite the forms by earlier map makers giving S. Columbanus. The most likely candidate seems to be Beinian Mac Seiscnéin of Armagh, a contemporary of St Patrick, and reputed to be his discipline and successor (DoSH). Watson (2004 (1926), 301) draws parallels with Kildavanan in Bute and argues that ‘the saint is probably the same’ in both names. As noted by Butter (2007, 199) ‘if Watson’s attribution was correct then this dedication would fit well into a group of dedications on Bute which are distinctly non-Columban’. An early cult association with Armagh is a possibility for this site, but a later Scandinavian association may also be envisaged (see discussion under Banan). Ultimately, little can be deduced by looking at the site itself due to the uncertainty that the ruins next to Loch Cille Bhanain represent the original church-site. Rather, it is necessary to consider *Cille Bhanain in the context of other similar sites in Scotland and Ireland in order to provide a possible outline of its history.
See further discussion under Banan for the possible dating of this site.
Martin 1703, 88: ‘The Churches here [South Uist] are St. Columba and St. Mary’s in Hogh-more, the most centrical place in the Island; St. Jeremy’s Chapels, St. Peter’s, St. Bannan, St. Michael, St. Donnan.’
Canmore ID 9924
Grid reference: NF767413
G cill ‘a church, chapel, churchyard, burial ground, hermit’s cell’ + pn Banan
(St Banan’s Church)
1580 Ortelius S. Columbanus
1595 Mercator St. Columbanus
1607 Hole St Columbanus
1610 Speed S. Columbanus
1654 Blaeu Kiluanen
1832 Thomson Kilivanan
OS 6-inch Loch Cille Bhanain (+ Chapel (In Ruins) & Burial Ground)